With Auburn and Alabama both off this week as the Tigers get ready for a trip to Texas A&M and Bama gets prepped for a visit from LSU next weekend, the jokes have already been made about all of the weddings happening around the state today.
In reality, people who get married on a fall Saturday, even if it’s on a bye week for both in-state teams, should be ostracized. You’re inconveniencing someone in attendance because they can’t say no to going to your fall wedding.
That said, there’s actually plenty of meaningful football around the SEC today, so let’s dive right in.
Arkansas @ Ole Miss - 11 am CST - Oxford, MS
We fondly remember this game as the one that sent Alabama to the SEC Championship in 2015 with the Henry Heave. Arkansas, facing a 4th and 25 with the game on the line, executed a blind backward toss that running back Alex Collins picked up and took for the first down.
The Hogs beat Ole Miss in overtime, and the Rebels’ tie-breaker over Alabama was nullified. The Tide went to the SEC Championship, where they beat Missouri, and won the national championship. Seriously, screw Arkansas for that.
With a combined 1-7 conference record between the two, there’s really no reason to watch this game except for the fact that your other options at noon are no more exciting. Arkansas will try to run the ball, Ole Miss will try to throw it, and whoever wins is anyone’s guess. The Pigs are really bad, and probably reeling after the dump-truckeration that we gave them last week, and so I believe Ole Miss will find a way to win at home, although the Rebels are really bad too.
#3 Georgia vs Florida - 2:30 pm CST - Jacksonville, FL
What used to be called the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party (I think that got banished, right?) has been one of the weirder games in the SEC this millennium. While Auburn and LSU have all of the truly odd monikers, this game’s produced outcomes in other unexpected ways.
“Mark Richt is so mild-mannered and he ordered his team to go get penalties!” Give me a break. I’m firmly in the camp right now that Georgia hasn’t done anything to prove that they’re a top three team in the country except not lose to crappy teams (maybe that’s what passes for greatness these days). They’re going to finish the regular season having played two ranked teams in Notre Dame and Auburn, and if they fall behind a team, I’d love to see them have to play from behind.
Now, don’t mistake that little rant for me picking Florida in this one. The Gators are a special type of bad right now, playing exclusively close-yet-boring ballgames. Watching 55 minutes of the Tennessee, Kentucky, LSU, and Texas A&M games dulled the senses, but the margin of those four games was ten points total. This game will probably be close, and Jim McElwain will be upset to look across the field and see that that other Saban disciple became the better coach, so he’ll probably have a trick or two up his sleeve.
Plus, average Florida teams have more often that not punked Georgia in Jacksonville. I’d love to see it again tomorrow.
Vanderbilt @ South Carolina - 3 pm CST - Columbia, SC
Are we watching the second-best team in the East? A Will Muschamp coached team? Yeah, why not.
The Gamecocks have been spurred on by the play of Jake Bentley at quarterback, and they lost two close games in conference, while beating NC State out of the ACC. Vanderbilt’s really bad, winless in the league, so USC should win easily and have no trouble getting to 6-2 overall. I’d be surprised if anyone other than actual fans of these teams tune in to watch since it’s during the Cocktail Party.
Missouri @ UConn - 5:30 pm CST - Storrs, CT
In Missouri’s two previous non-con games against non-Power Five teams, they averaged 70 points. Now, they get to go against Rhett Lashlee’s offense as they head to play the Huskies up north. This is a weird late October road game, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Tigers get punked by UConn. Again, this is a game that few spectators (aside from fans of those two teams) will be watching.
Mississippi State @ Texas A&M - 6:15 pm CST - College Station, TX
Here’s a game that we can watch to get some actual perspective. Auburn rocked MSU by almost 40 points, one of their only two losses so far, and we’ve got A&M next week. It’s true, the transitive property doesn’t work, but we can at least make comparisons between the two teams as they play tomorrow night.
Kellen Mond looks really good at times for A&M, but he looks like a freshman at others. A&M has all the speed in the world, and some really good receivers on the boundary, but it’s down to the offensive line that hasn’t gotten great push to make things happen for that side of the ball.
As for the defense, they “exposed” Alabama and only held the Tide to 27 points, so they’re not bad. If Mississippi State can move the ball on A&M, we can likely move the ball against them as well.
Tennessee @ Kentucky - 6:30 pm CST - Lexington, KY
Here we have what might be one of the better teams in the SEC East, and then we have Tennessee. I think everyone pretty much knows that Butch Jones is a lame duck head coach in Knoxville, and so it becomes a situation where we watch just how far the Vols can fall in the final few games of the season. They’re 3-4 right now, but haven’t won a conference game yet. However, Tennessee hasn’t played any of the bottom-feeders yet. Coming up: Missouri and Vanderbilt, plus a game against Southern Miss to get them to six wins and a bowl. After that finale against Vandy, Butch Jones will get fired, and the new guy will have a couple weeks to work with the team and excite the fans in a mid-level bowl game.
Meanwhile, Kentucky’s 5-2 right now, with a close loss to Florida and a blowout defeat to MSU. The Wildcats could end up winning 7-8 games depending on how things shake out down the stretch, which would be a fantastic year for Mark Stoops and may set the Cats at #2 or #3 in the SEC East.